MANILA - The Philippines should scale up its daily COVID-19 testing to at least 150,000 as it battles a pandemic surge, the OCTA Research Group said Sunday.
Metro Manila's reproduction rate, or the number of people infected by a virus patient, has decreased to 0.93 following the imposition of stricter quarantine measures, according to Professor Guido David, a member of OCTA.
The capital region, home to a tenth of the country's population, has also posted a positivity rate of 19 percent versus 25 percent 3 weeks ago, David said. The ideal positivity rate is 5 percent as per the World Health Organization's guidelines, he noted.
"At least 75,000 sana ang testing in NCR (National Capital Region) alone. Nationwide siguro, 150,000 would be a starting point. Pag wala namang surge, we can decrease the number of tests," he told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
(There should be at least 75,000 daily COVID-19 tests in NCR alone. Nationwide, maybe around 150,000 would be a starting point. We can decrease the number of tests if there's no surge.)
"What we're seeing is mataas pa rin ang hospitalization. Maganda 'yung trend na nagi-improve and we want to sustain the downward trend. May uncertainty pa rin dito because the positivity rate is still high."
(We're seeing still high hospitalization rate. The trend is improving and we want to sustain its downward trend. There's still uncertainty because the positivity rate is still high.)
As of late, the country is conducting an average of over 55,000 COVID-19 tests per day, peaking to more than 60,000, Secretary Vince Dizon, the Philippines' testing czar, said last Thursday.
Hospitals in Metro Manila and nearby provinces will remain full for the "next few weeks possibly" as 10 percent of around 3,800 daily coronavirus cases require hospitalization, David said.
"We will not get immediate reprieve sa ating hospital system...Ang isang bottleneck is because we don’t have enough nurses right now," he said.
(We will not get immediate reprieve in our hospital system...One bottleneck is because we don’t have enough nurses right now.)
Hospitals' COVID-19 bed capacity is 65 percent full in the capital region while intensive care units are 70 percent occupied, David added.
"What we hear from the ground is puno pa rin more or less ang hospitals nila (hospitals are still more or less full) and that is why they are requesting for an extension of the MECQ," he said.
Metro Manila and its four surrounding provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal were placed under enhanced community quarantine last March 29 until April 11 to curb the alarming rise in new COVID-19 cases.
The quarantine classification was downgraded to MECQ starting April 12 until the end of the month.
The Philippines on Saturday logged 9,661 more COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 989,380, with 89,485 active infections.